These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions.

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can drugs affect your sanity (mental health)?

-aescobar, Texas

Yes. Many people who are addicted to drugs are also diagnosed with other mental disorders and vice versa. For example, compared with the general population, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, with the reverse also true. For more information, see: www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/comorbidity.html.

-Joni Rutter

Do people have the same feeling of highness or are there different types?

-BBradford, Illinois

very important question.there are huge individual differences among the experiences that different people will derive from using the same drug. THis includes both differences in the desired effects (high) as well as differences in the adverse effects. stay smart, stay clean

-Ruben Baler

Do people use pain killers to relieve themselves from emotional pain instead of physical pain?

-vmartinez, Texas

Interesting question!!! We have not figured out all the connections between physical and emotional pain and are working to figure them out. We do know, however, that opioid medications that are directed mainly at physical pain have some positive effects on emotional pain, and antidepressant medications that are directed mainly at emotional pain can lessen physical pain.That said, in most cases, one type of pain or the other is predominant, and the right medication is the one that is directed at that type of pain. A doctor is the best person to determine this. Someone who decides on his own to take a medication for either type of pain is making a mistake. The dangers are not getting the best relief, and other potential adverse consequences.

-Dave Thomas

Do perscription drugs kill faster then ones you get off the street?

-785773, Pennsylvania

Prescription pain killers can cause addiction and death if they are used inappropriately, for example without a prescription or in quantities not ordered by a doctor. So can some street drugs. Whether one would kill a person faster than the other depends on which specific drugs the person takes, how much, and his or her specific personal vulnerabilities.

-Dave Thomas

Do poppy seeds register on drug tests?

-Rorschach, Arkansas

They can. Poppy seeds do contain morphine (an opiate) at very low levels so you can come up positive for morphine if you just ate a lot of pastries that contained poppy seeds. The level for opiate testing was raised in part for this reason, so it unusual now for this type of case.

-Gaya Dowling

do rehab treatments raeally work

-sfelder, Texas

In addition to stopping drug abuse, the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. According to research that tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning. Unfortunately, when relapse occurs many deem treatment a failure. This is not the case: successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for other chronic diseases. For the addicted patient, lapses to drug abuse do not indicate failure—rather, they signify that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed.For more information, see www.drugabuse.gov/PODAT/faqs.html#faq3.

-Joni Rutter

Do some drugs have positive side-effects? I mean stuff like

-B,

hi bi-dizzleWhen drugs are abused the net effects of the side effects are always bad effects. But all kidding aside, sure, many drugs have active ingredients that serve important medicinal purposes: examples are opiates in pain analgesics, marijuana's THC for nausea and wasting syndrome, amphetamines for ADHD, and on and on. But the important thing is that any positive effect can only be taken advantage of with the help and under the supervision of a doctor. PLease remember that

-Ruben Baler

Do some drugs have positive side-effects? I mean stuff like Marijuana

-B,

hi bi-dizzleWhen drugs are abused the net effects of the side effects are always bad effects. But all kidding aside, sure, many drugs have active ingredients that serve important medicinal purposes: examples are opiates in pain analgesics, marijuana's THC for nausea and wasting syndrome, amphetamines for ADHD, and on and on. But the important thing is that any positive effect can only be taken advantage of with the help and under the supervision of a doctor. PLease remember that.

-Ruben Baler

do stariods make you short tempored

-kyle, Ohio

Nice to hear from you Kyle! I'm guessing you are talking about anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) which are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone...These drugs are legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency (like delayed puberty), as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass but are sometimes abused to enhance athletic performance and/or improve physical appearance. You are correct that many users while on anabolic steroids have reported extreme mood swings and irritability. For other health consequences go to https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids and here's a short video about steroids from Dr. Ruben Baler, one of our scientists: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/interactives-and-videos

-Bethany Deeds

do steroids cause a big CHANGE in your life in the future?

-37516, California

it surely does in some people who became dangerously aggressive or depressed as a result of their chronic anabolic steroid abuse.

-Ruben Baler

Do steroids eventually killl you over time?

-Jim Bob N, Pennsylvania

Hi Jim Bob. This is a tough question because we don't really have the answer yet. Some investigators believe that steroids cause cancer, but there is actually little proof of this. Steroids can clearly mess up your development, especially when used during the teen years when sexual maturation is taking place. Also, you know that aggression is a major issue with steroid use - this can result in risky behavior that could endanger you. But if I had to give an answer right now, I think most people would say that steroids don't directly kill you over time, but why risk your life if all the answers aren't in yet?

-Marilyn Huestis

do steroids have the same effect as drugs if very addicted

-golfer50, Nebraska

Hi Nebraska,Drugs have different effects on the body, but drug dependence or addiction may be similar in an individual's behavior around the time they spend getting and using the drug, and alienating family, friends, and colleagues. When addicted, an individual loses control over their drug habit - it takes over their life and becomes the most important goal, over other aspects that used to be important to them. So yes, they can have this same effect, but the areas of the brain that the drug works on and the acute and long-term effects on the body can be different. Steroids definitely can produce dependence and addiction. You can find more info on steroids and its effects on the body and brain at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids. Thanks for your question!

-Marilyn Huestis

do teens smoke more in highschool or in college?

-master, Michigan

Hi, what a good question! According to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Study, about 19% of high school seniors and 16% of college students report they are current smokers. So overall they're pretty similar---most people who smoke start in high school so if you can avoid it in high school it would be a smart heath strategy!

-Marsha Lopez

Do teens start smoking weed because they think its cool?

-WhoIsThis, Indiana

Teenagers start using marijuana for many reasons, including trying to 'fit in' or 'be cool'. In fact, one of the biggest risk factors for using marijuana is having friends who use marijuana. Peer pressure to use drugs can be strong among youth, but standing up against peers who use drugs can help prevent the onset of drug use. Also, hanging out with a different group of friends who do NOT use drugs can be a really smart alternative. Thanks for your question!

-Kevin Conway

Do we know what kind of drug the Viking berserkers used in the middle ages, and is there a drug like that nowadays?

-InquisitiveMind, Massachusetts

Thanks for teh intersting question.you are in luck becauise i am also an expert on ancient drugs of war (just kidding) The berserks were the most feared and vicious fighters among the Vikings. They were really 'out there' when it came deviant behaviors, and lived well beyond what was accepted norm among Viking-tribes. For example, whenever there was a fight at hand, they would get themselves into this wild frenzy, partly by self-hypnosis but also partly by consuming wild berries and other toxicological plants. As a result, they would reportedly cause the 'berserks' run right at the front of the war-mobs, only dressed in a few loose pieces of fur, besmeared with dirt and blood, sometimes donning animal-masks. I can imagine they were a really frightening sight to any soldier standing on the other side of the warline. Unfortunately, we don't have any reliable information about the active ingredients in the potions that these Viking potions contained, but some berries do have psychoactive properties.

-Ruben Baler

Do you believe that drug use is more effected by genetics or lifestyle? in other words, nature versus nurture?

-95golfer, New York

Hey, 95golfer...this is a great question. The answer is that it is both nature AND nurture. Research has shown that drug use is about 50% genetic and 50% environmental and other factors. For more information, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/.

-Joni Rutter

Do you change when you take drugs, like do you act different?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Yep, a change in behavior and personality are common among individuals that are doing drugs. For example, they can stop participating in activities they used to enjoy, start hanginng around different friends, become mood and more. Also, drugs can make people behave in erratic ways, for example, PCP use can lead to really erractic behavior, rapid speech, aggression or intense sweating. Want to know more about the effects of drugs? Go to our site! There's lots of good info! http://www.nida.nih.gov/drugpages/; https://teens.drugabuse.gov/

-David Shurtleff

Do you experience withdrawl from

-Ashton, Indiana

That is a great question. Yes, in fact you can experience withdrawal which makes it very hard to quit. The signs of withdrawal are irritability, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and importantly--strong cravings for the drug, which is what can make it hard to stop. The symptoms are worst the first week after you stop

-Christine Colvis

Do you experience withdrawl from marijuana?

-Ashton, Indiana

That is a great question. Yes, in fact you can experience withdrawal which makes it very hard to quit. The signs of withdrawal are irritability, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and importantly--strong cravings for the drug, which is what can make it hard to stop. The symptoms are worst the first week after you stop.

-Christine Colvis

Do you have a life or are yall computyer?

-548819, Texas

We might be scientists and science writers but we definitely have cool lives--have you read the bios we are posting?

-Carol Krause

Do you reccomend the 12 steps of recovery for drug addicts and alcoholics?

-katiejs, Wisconsin

Some people find these programs extremely helpful, especially in supporting their recovery over the long run. There are also treatments that have been shown by research to help people recover from various addictions and medications that can help with some (nicotine, alcohol, and opiates). People need to find the right approach for them, and they may need additional help such as job training, linkage to other medical care etc. NIDA has a booklet that describes the principles of effective treatment that you can find at : http://www.nida.nih.gov/PODAT/PODATIndex.html

-Susan Weiss

Do you think

-ims301, Louisiana

Hello to Iberia Middle School! The relationship between cocaine use and seizures is complex one. The likelihood that someone would experience a seizure can vary by frequency, mode of intake (how you do it), and the amount. Want to read more about it? Check out this link https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants 

Curious about it still? Why don't you become a drug researcher--you ask great questions!

-Bethany Deeds

Do you think cocaine causes people to have seizures?

-ims301, Louisiana

Hello to Iberia Middle School! The relationship between cocaine use and seizures is complex one. The likelihood that someone would experience a seizure can vary by frequency, mode of intake (how you do it), and the amount. Want to read more about it? Check out this link https://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_stim1.php Curious about it still? Why don't you become a drug researcher--you ask great questions:>

-Bethany Deeds

do you think Europe has the right idea for a drinking age of 18 and having parents let their kids drink in moderation?

-chenoahsmall, Vermont

In general, no. It turns out that kids not only start drinking at younger ages in European countries compared to the US, they also get drunk at earlier ages and are more likely to binge drink than teens here. In other words, European teens do not drink more moderately than teens here in the US. In fact it is the opposite. Other research tells us that kids whose parents let them drink at home are more likely to develop problems with alcohol than kids who can't drink at home. Taken together, the facts tell us that the 'European model' is not one that would produce the desired results here.

-Aaron White

Do you think everyone will try drugs at least once in their life time...even if they dont get addicted?

-chicky, Maryland

Good question. Not everyone will - but, lots of people do try drugs. The problem is we can't predict who will keep going with drug use or get addicted. And anyone who uses can get into trouble--like having an accident or having a heart attack.

-Wilson Compton

do you think smoking can affect your life span?

-958832, Maryland

We know from scientific research that the earlier you smoke or use other drugs, the more likely you are to become addicted and suffer serious social and medical consequences, like having yellow teeth, lack of physical activity, asthma and other lung problems, as well as increasing your risk for cancers. Smoking causes so many health consequences--it can certainly shorten your lifespan. So....tell your friends that smoking is not good for them! Thanks for your question. Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.

-Joni Rutter

Do you think that the legal drinking age should be lowered to 18?

-augie117, Minnesota

The legal drinking age was raised to 21 because too many young people were being hurt by alcohol. Raising it to 21 resulted in a big reduction in the number of young people being killed in alcohol-related car crashes. The decision to raise the drinking age to 21 was made before researchers started studying the teenage brain and how alcohol effects it. Now we know that the brain keeps growing until after the age of 21 and that alcohol can damage the teenage brain. So, it turns out that a drinking age of 21 makes sense from a brain standpoint, too! 

-Aaron White

do you think that when teens see people smoking on tv or in magazines, they want to to start smoking?

-mwhite, Illinois

Great question. There has been research showing that some teens (not all) can be influenced by seeing people smoke in ads, or on tv, or in movies. Some of these researchers have also tried to understand why this happens, including understanding what is happening in the brain when teens are exposed to media with people smoking. For more information on smoking, click on: http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

-Belinda Sims

Do you think the legalization of

-avincent, Kentucky

Hello Kentucky! Drug abuse research has shown that in general if use increases, known harms (negative health consequences) can also increase. What we don't know is whether these rates of dependence will increase proportionately with a rise in use or increase or at a faster or slower rate. FYI. In the United States, a number of states have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical uses; however, since all other medicines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their safety and efficacy--marijuana has not met these standards. There are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in
marijuana, and scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients, and the body systems that they effect, in order to develop new medications for a variety of symptoms and diseases including pain, obesity, and addiction. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in
marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS. However, it is unlikely that smoked
marijuanawill be developed as a medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction.Currently,the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in all states. This link has some topline data about the increase in marijuana use in 8th, 10th and 12th graders from the latest NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future survey:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/10/mtf10overview.html

-Bethany Deeds

Do you think the legalization of marijuana will increase peoples' use?

-avincent, Kentucky

Hello Kentucky! Drug abuse research has shown that in general if use increases, known harms (negative health consequences) can also increase. What we don't know is whether these rates of dependence will increase proportionately with a rise in use or increase or at a faster or slower rate. FYI. In the United States, a number of states have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical uses; however, since all other medicines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their safety and efficacy--marijuana has not met these standards. There are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in marijuana, and scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients, and the body systems that they effect, in order to develop new medications for a variety of symptoms and diseases including pain, obesity, and addiction. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS. However, it is unlikely that smoked marijuana will be developed as a medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction.Currently,the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in all states. This link has some topline data about the increase in marijuana use in 8th, 10th and 12th graders from the latest NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future survey: http://www.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/10/mtf10overview.html

-Bethany Deeds